Monthly Archives: August 2010

Arcade Fire's New Interactive Video, Filmed at Your Mom's

Might as well just call us Sufjan & Arcade Fire Narcs with all the posts we’ve done lately, but this interactive video for “We Used to Wait,” made in partnership with Google, is flat-out amazing. It uses dynamic images from Google Streetview and Maps of your house. Requires latest version of Firefox, Safari, or Chrome (preferably Chrome) since it uses the newfangled HTML5.

The Wilderness Downtown.

Chez Baby Noise Narcs

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Philadelphia Road Music: The War on Drugs

Philly’s The War on Drugs are headed by Oakland transplant Adam Granduciel and also feature Philly own space forklifter, Kurt Vile. Of course, they also feature Philadelphia’s best space out and drive tunage. Back before some fine Philadelphians un-car-ed me, nothing pleased me more than blasting 2008’s stunning Wagonwheel Blues while I sped over the Girard Point Bridge as it framed Philly’s skyline (pictured, courtesy of PhillySkyline).

On October 26, they have a new 8 song EP coming out, Future Weather, on Secretly Canadian. But now that I’m carless will I still love the tunes as much? If they’re anything like lead track “Comin’ Through,” absolutely. Like most things in Philadelphia, the tunes are better when you walk.

The War on Drugs, “Comin’ Through”

Tracklisting and album art after the jump…

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Hot Tub Rock Show: Timejumps one week into the future

What? Pitchfork’s doing their top 200 tracks of the 90s this week? Noise Narcs can’t compete with that kind of list mojo, so we’re going to delay our Hot Tub Rock Show feature one week. (Also, we’re not ready.) Regular posting will continue.

Hold on the best you can, we’ve haven’t dropped you, forgot you or anything.

Iron & Wine, “Waitin’ for a Superman”

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Elevator Music

Here is my long overdue initial contribution to the Noise Narcs community.

When I was growing up my mom insisted on my brother and me taking piano lessons, and when I was about 12 I quit to focus on my athletic career. This turned out to be a mistake, as I have yet to impress any girls with my baseball or basketball skills. I imagine I might be able to woo them if I could sit down at a piano and play something romantic, like some Chopin, Beethoven, or the piano version of Sisqo’s opus “The Thong Song.”

I stumbled across this amazing video of Arcade Fire playing the title-track from their 2007 album Neon Bible while in an elevator, and if my mom would have just had the foresight to make me take magazine playing lessons, I probably would never have quit, and I would be an acclaimed musician who had the ability to impress the ladies.

Enjoy.

Arcade Fire, “Neon Bible (Live in an Elevator)”

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We get it, Asthmatic Kitty: Sufjan controls the news cycle

<a href="http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/track/i-walked" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/track/i-walked', 'I Walked by Sufjan Stevens');">I Walked by Sufjan Stevens</a>A track from Sufjan Stevens’ new album that’s not his EP dropped. “I Walked.” It’s good. Sounds pretty similar to “Heirloom,” which we posted on Wednesday, which is to say: very different than his previous work.

I’m as surprised as anyone that I’ve posted on Sufjan Stevens three times this week. Like everyone else wearing a hoodie or Westerns, I was bowled over by Greetings from Michigan. I even have an eidetic memory of where I first listened to it: Catacombs, a now-closed coffee shop in the basement of a church in Madison, WI. And I immediately recommended it to a woman (married) whom I had a crush (platonic, admiring) on. And I liked Illinois a lot. And then… I got really sick of him. That voice. Those damn xylophones. The chirpy woodwinds. When it was fresh, that sound blew my mind; and then it wasn’t fresh, and I just found it cloying. Like most crushes.

All that's left of Catacombs is this crappy Yelp pic

So I never bothered to listen to Avalanches, which was like Sufjan’s Amnesiac, a full album of excess tracks from Illinois. Until now. And it’s pretty damn good. And it has three versions of Illinois‘ best track, “Chicago.” Two are superior to Illinois‘. And one of those is superior enough to make me crush all over again. Crushing so hard I post on Sufjan Stevens three times in a week. So hard I shut off that voice in my head that wonders how you make that “Wicked Games”-esque guitar lick with an acoustic.

Sufjan Stevens, “Chicago (Acoustic Version)”

[Stream all of Avalanche FREE at Bandcamp and then buy it there]

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Herman Leonard (3/6/1923 – 8/14/2010)

Herman Leonard, originally from Allentown, PA, was one of those photographers who helped make jazz “the epitome of cool.”  He shot this awesome photo of Billie Holiday cooking a steak for her dog.

Check out some of his other photographs at The Morning Call and Time [update: and Slate].

Billie Holiday, “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You”

[Buy The Complete Billie Holiday On Verve, 1945-1959 Box Set]

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TalkNarc: The Eeries

A few weeks ago, I posted a laid-back track by a Philadelphia garage band named The Eeries.  The song was submitted to Noise Narcs’ “Minute Music” (our sans context, sans comment category) because, frankly, there just wasn’t much to find out about them online.  I could have said more about the music, of course, like that The Eeries write early-60s inspired garage pop with infectious melodies and pitch-perfect yet seemingly effortless harmonies.  The tempo is usually lazy, the lyrics are occasionally morbid.  But beyond that I could only direct you to their blog, which is about as lo-fi as their sound and exists purely to give away free music.  I was like a narc without any beans to spill or a dime to drop.

Thankfully though, The Eeries agreed to sit down and remedy the situation by answering a few questions for us.

The Eeries, “Ain’t it a Shame”
The Eeries, “Feel Right”

From what I’ve been able to gather: 1) there are three of you, 2) you’re from Philadelphia, and 3) based on your myspace page, you appear to be a popular 1940’s contortionist sister act.  But apart from that, you’ve kept a pretty low online profile.  So what’s your back story?  Who are you guys, and how’d the band get its start?

We’re all from a town in central Jersey called West Windsor.  Andy and Scott were in bands together all throughout high school and I (Mike) was in a hardcore punk band out of New Brunswick, NJ at the same time.  So we all knew each other from growing up in the same town and became close friends because of the very small music scene in town which revolved around Tom Murphy’s house.  Tom’s dad was into home recording when he was a younger man, so Tom’s room was a makeshift studio.  All of our earliest projects were cut by Tom.  He’s currently in an awesome 2 man grind/death band called Dethroned Emperor.

We were all guitarists when we started living together last september so we borrowed gear and learned other instruments out of necessity.  Andy plays drums and sings, Scott plays guitar and sings and I play bass and sing.

Cover art for TAPE by Philadelphia artist Randy Vale

From the sound of it, you aren’t really big into high production values.  In his post about you at Passion of the Weiss, Douglas Martin writes that the lo-fi aesthetic is often a deliberate and “defiant rejection” of modern recording technology, but he also wonders whether that is the case with you.  Your songs are good, but why do they also sound shitty?

We like recording ourselves.  Being able to control every part of production is more important to us than the quality of the recording.

What kind of equipment do you use?  Do you do any mixing on the computer?  I’ve noticed that your file formats have been all over the place (m4a, mp3, aif).

We’ve recorded every release differently.  We usually use the on-board mic on Scott’s laptop for every instrument (vocals included).  We did instruments live on EP(A) and those were recorded by the built in mic on a tape deck.  We try different (inexpensive) techniques until we get the sound we want.  Our formats are crazy due to laziness and inexperience.

Why do you call yourselves “The Eeries,” and what do you think is the eeriest song you’ve ever heard?

We wanted to call ourselves “The Spooks”.  Then we found out it was a racial slur and, a month or two after moving to Philadelphia, found out a garage band had recently started up in the area called The Spooks.  We went with The Eeries because it’s a ghost in super mario world (we figured that was close enough).  We all listen exclusively to “Spooky Sounds” volumes 4 through 7 available on Party City records.

Isn’t the ghost from super mario world named Boo?

There are a lot of ghosts in super mario world:

Eeries are ghosts that dwell in the Ghost Houses. They fly in groups or solo, but always in fixed formations, ignoring where Mario is or isn’t. (strategywiki.org)

One thing I really like about your music is how, on songs like “Ain’t it a Shame,” you manage to sound so morose and yet so catchy and fun at the same time.  Those great harmonies definitely contribute to the effect.  Would you say, on the whole, that you are “glass half full” or “glass half empty” kind of people?

What glass?

So far you’ve given a lot of music away for free at your blog.  I’m not complaining, but is there an LP in the works?  Like one that you might sell to people?

We’re currently working on a full length.  We’d like to put a 12″ out ourselves but we don’t have any money so we’re looking for someone to put it out.  We just finished a press of 100 of our newest TAPE and a repress of 100 of our previous tape EP(A).  If anyone wants a hard copy they can email us.  Our music will always be available for download on our blog regardless of what format it’s on.

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Okay, Sufjan, you can keep your fake EPs

as long as you follow them up with weeks-later albums with covers as awesome as this:

We can say it shows an extensive use of electronics (banjos and acoustic guitars give way to drum machines and analog synthesizers), and an obsession with cosmic fantasies (space, heaven, aliens, love), to create an explicit pop-song extravaganza, augmented by heavy orchestration, and maybe even a few danceable moments. Enjoy Your Rabbit meets the BQE. But with songs.

[Asthmetic Kitty]

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Department of Tender Sci-fi Beast Videos

Just yesterday a friend directed me to Yeasayer’s new “Madder Red” video: it features a gooey-eyed Kristin Bell as the caretaker of sad, doomed alien creature, and I was all set to throw it on here and announce a two-data-point trend of star-laden, indulgently melancholy sci-fi videos (the other point, being, of course, Christina Hendricks’s Broken Bells turn a few months ago).

Then Dave goes ahead and posts MGMT’s “Congratulations” video.  So now the Yeasayer vid is officially Data Point Three!  And, of course, more evidence for the irresistible pathos of decaying Jim Henson creatures.

Yeasayer, \”Madder Red\”

As for the song itself (wait, this is a music blog?), I think I like it, but can’t quite tell if that’s just the papier-mache armadillo-alien thing talking.  Come back to me when I’m further along in the mourning process.

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The Black Keys Give Each Other Black Eyes

MTV recently announced that the video for The Black Keys’ “Tighten Up” from Brothers (easily one of my most-listened-to albums and a shoe-in for top-ten of twenty-ten) is up for a VMA.

It’s adorable.

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